Dental Admission Test (DAT)
The Dental Admission Test (DAT), sponsored by the American Dental Association, is a required part of each candidate’s credentials. The majority of dental schools require applicants to submit DAT scores as part of their supporting materials. The DAT may be taken once the student has completed all of the pre-requisite courses and when they feel they are ready. Normally, this falls around the end of a student’s fall semester or late spring of their junior year. Before registering for the DAT, a DENTPIN must be secured.
Students should plan on taking the exam only once. Retakes are possible if a desired score is not achieved on the first attempt, but they are limited. If candidates wish to allow a chance to re-exam and still meet the September 30th Dental College of Georgia (DCG) and other schools' deadlines for DAT testing, they must factor in the required 90-day waiting period (allow approximately 100 days) required by Prometric. It may take 3-4 weeks from the date the test is taken for scores to be reported and verified by the American Dental Association, and then transmitted to AADSAS.
Keep in mind that an individual school will have an expiration date on the DAT scores they will accept. The DAT is valid for two years; however, some schools may accept scores past the two-year mark. Check with each individual school for the length of time they will accept DAT test scores. The Dental College of Georgia accepts a DAT score for up to two years. Please note there is a limit of three attempts on the DAT.
What is on the DAT?
The DAT is offered multiple times per year at a cost of $445. It is computer based and around 5 hours in length. The test is multiple choice and includes the following six areas: Biology, General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, Reading Comprehension, Perceptual Ability and Quantitative Reasoning. Reading the DAT Guide is an important part of being ready to take the DAT, especially the "Test Content" or "Scope of the Test." A new guide is due out around the end of December of each year.
What courses do I need before taking the DAT?
To be adequately prepared for the DAT, a student should have completed the following courses:
- BIOL 1107/L and BIOL 1108/L
- CHEM 1211/L and CHEM 1212/L
- CHEM 2211/L and CHEM 2212/L
If possible, a student may wish to have GENE 3200, BCMB 3100, and a course in Physiology as well (but not required). Taking 3D Design, Sculpture, or Jewelry/Metals can be helpful for the Perceptual Ability section of the DAT.
When and where is the DAT offered?
The DAT is administered through Prometric Test Centers and testing appointments are available year-round. Before a student can apply to take the DAT they must secure a Dental Personal Identification Number (DENTPIN). Once a DENTPIN is secured, a student can then submit a DAT application from ADA.org/DAT. A new application must be submitted each time the DAT is taken. At this time and for the same price, the applicant may name as many dental schools as they wish to receive their scores. Students should consider having a couple of aspirational schools as well as schools where they would go and where their numbers are at or above the schools’ averages from the previous year. Adding schools later may cause a delay as well as additional fees. Applicants should not worry about listing schools that they might not choose to select for the AADSAS application.
After the application is processed, an email will be sent with instructions on how to schedule the test. It is recommended to wait 24 hours after receiving this email before attempting to schedule an appointment.
Most students take the DAT in the Spring of their Junior year (with April and May being the preferred months).
Fortunately, UGA students have several locations in which to take the DAT. The University Testing Center offers the exam in Athens, however, there are several testing sites across the state, including Atlanta, Columbus, Macon, and Augusta. Students can register for the DAT here.
How is the DAT scored?
The American Dental Association (ADA) reports DAT scores, as eight standard scores. The first six scores are from the individual tests themselves, which include biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry, perceptual ability (PAT), reading comprehension,
and quantitative reasoning. Each sub-section of the DAT is scored on a 30-point scale, with a mid-point of 18
(50th percentile). The Total Science Score (TS) combines your raw science score, with Reading Comprehension and Math to make up the
Academic Average (AA). Scores are placed into percentile rankings based on the performance of all test-takers
in a given month of administration.
Official DAT score releases take approximately 3-4 weeks.
The DAT is valid for two years; however, some schools may accept scores past the two-year mark. Check with each individual school for the length of time they will accept DAT test scores. Keep this in mind when planning a gap-year.
How long is the DAT?
The entire exam takes ~5 hours to complete. Each section is divided into specific blocks of time with a 15-minute optional mid-exam break. Please review the breakdown of the test below:
Can I receive financial assistance to pay for the DAT?
Yes! The Partial Fee Waiver assists those who, without financial assistance, would be unable to take the DAT. According to the ADA DAT Guide, this waiver covers 50% of the DAT fee, which includes the fee for the test and any official score reports a student requests. The waivers are granted on a first come, first served basis, beginning on January 1, and are generally exhausted within two or three months.
The Fee Assistance Program cannot be applied retroactively, so it is important you apply for assistance before paying for the DAT. The waiver also does not apply to any fees associated with rescheduling or score reporting after the time of the student’s initial application.
How many times can I take the DAT?
Students should always plan to take the DAT only once. However, it is not uncommon for applicants to take the DAT twice. Students must do better in subsequent attempts. Further, many dental schools do not accept scores after three attempts.
Do not take the DAT for practice! There are several resources for practice tests available for free or for purchase.
How should I study for the DAT?
Students may elect to self-study or take a guided DAT-prep course (or both!) to prepare for the DAT. What a student decides is completely dependent on their own financial situation and beliefs in their study skills. It is not mandatory to take a prep-course; in fact, many UGA students do quite well on the DAT through self-study alone. The key is to devise a plan, stick to it, and take multiple (at least 5-6) full-length practice exams.
The ADA offers an easy sample test in a paper format, which is a good start to understand the test. Prometric also offers an online tutorial of how the DAT works and a checklist for test takers to utilize before the day of the test. Students also have an opportunity to take a DAT Practice Test. The computer-based practice test is timed and reflects the actual DAT testing time of 4 hours and 30 minutes. Upon conclusion of the test students will receive an unofficial report indicating the number of correct questions. Students can also take a Test Drive with Prometric that simulates the day of the test to alleviate any anxiety before the official test date.
The best preparation for the DAT is to have completed college coursework in the topics/content of the test, but this is not enough. Additional study and review is necessary to achieve a competitive score. Study should be followed by practice testing in the same format (computer-based) and circumstance (timing) of the actual test. Upon completion of a practice test the student must determine what they still need to study. Many commercially available materials have computer based testing, comprehensive score solutions, and diagnostic score reports that will help students direct their efforts.
A competitive score at any given school is usually at or above the average score for the immediately preceding entering class. Students may view these scores in the ADEA Guide to Dental Schools chapter 3, Deciding Where to Apply. Schools may also have minimally acceptable sub-scores. The admissions office will tell the student if they recommend a repeat of the DAT based on any sub-score.
It is advised that students take 12-13 hours during the semester they are studying for the DAT.
The ADA and ADEA offer various products, resources and tools to assist students with the DAT exam and there are a wealth of other private options, including Kaplan, DAT Bootcamp, Chads Videos, etc.
The Pre-Health Advising Office does not endorse or recommend any DAT prep course/company. Students should use due diligence in determining the best preparation for the DAT.